Ipswich v Millwall: MICK McCarthy admits he’ll always have a special place in his heart for Millwall – but a fierce desire to win will completely overwhelm any feelings of sentimentality today.

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The Yorkshireman finished his playing career at the Lions and went on to enjoy four years at the club as a young boss, the spell acting as a springboard for subsequent successes with Sunderland, the Republic of Ireland and Wolves.

However, in typically straight-talking fashion, the 53-year-old says all that will be forgotten this afternoon as he looks to continue his impressive start to life as Ipswich Town manager.

“They gave me my chance and they’ll always have a special place in my heart because of that,” said McCarthy, speaking ahead of the visit of his former club to Portman Road.

“The fans there are very demanding and it was a great place to cut my teeth. I took that job at 32 and I was wet behind the ears – it was a case of rabbit caught in the headlights for a while.

“If it wasn’t for them believing in me, I guess I wouldn’t be sat here today. That said, I’m manager of Ipswich Town now and, let me tell you, I don’t like anybody I play against. I mean that.

“Anybody who I’m playing against I want to beat; even if it’s my kids at tiddlywinks or crazy golf.

“It’s a horrible trait in me that my kids don’t like, but there you go. That’s how you’ve got to be in this business.”

Having inherited a Blues side that were rock-bottom of the Championship table, McCarthy has masterminded a return of 13 points from his first seven games in charge to lead the club five points clear of the relegation zone.

However, with Luke Hyam and Nigel Reo-Coker both still sidelined – and Luke Chambers and Bradley Orr also doubts – the Town boss has warned supporters not to get too carried away following morale-boosting victories over Nottingham Forest and Bolton.

Especially as Millwall arrive in town today off the back of an impressive 13-game unbeaten run.

He said: “We’ve got a really good team coming here in Millwall, then we go to a tough old place in Elland Road [Leeds] next weekend. Let’s just keeping focusing on things game-by-game.

“I do want to keep a lid on things – I want to keep expectations as low as possible.

“No doubt about it, our hopes are high, but when you get a couple of good results everyone can start getting carried away.

“You can easily get slapped down in two or three more games and that’s what I don’t want to happen.”

– Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates

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